Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

District transportation head retiring, PFT and AFT in talks

District longtimer is out the door, and is the PFT figuring out their move against the district?

District transportation head retiring, PFT and AFT in talks

Longtime district veteran John Lombardi, who heads the district's transportation department, is retiring, district sources say.

Lombardi will take his leave at the end of the month after 31 years in the district.

His decision comes in the midst of a series of deep cuts the district has made to a load of essential services and personnel, including the elimination of yellow bus services for 45,000 public-and private-school students.

They aim to close a deficit of $629 million in the 2011-12 school year.

SEPTA Transpasses, distributed to mostly high school students at no cost, was also on the chopping block, but officials on both sides are in discussion on how to restore them. 

Anonymous district sources who know about Lombardi's pending retirement say they aren't the least surprised. Many longtimers like Lombardi have already taken the district up on their offer of 18 months of healthcare and other benefits if they leave quietly.

With growing uncertainty, layoffs and the general feeling that the place will implode at any moment, convincing district folks to leave is not a hard sell.

Meanwhile, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the parent chapter of the local branch, will be in town today. Rumor has it, she's rushed in to plan a counter-strategy to the district's decision to give unions a month to renegotiate union contracts in order to get more concessions or else lose their contracts.

Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and vice president of AFT, wouldn't say much about it.

"Randi is aware of the attack on the PFT and other unions and it will be a topic of conversation," he said.

The PFT is certainly not known for being a sideline player, so it'll be interesting to see what they will do if the district makes good on their threats.





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